ST. MARYS, Ont. -- Pat Hentgen played the game professionally for 19 years, suited up with the Toronto Blue Jays for 10 Major League seasons, and has spent a total of 26 years -- and counting -- with the Canadian organization as a player, coach, ambassador and special assistant.For his
ST. MARYS, Ont. -- Pat Hentgen played the game professionally for 19 years, suited up with the Toronto Blue Jays for 10 Major League seasons, and has spent a total of 26 years -- and counting -- with the Canadian organization as a player, coach, ambassador and special assistant.
For his accomplishments throughout the entirety of his career, across multiple platforms, the 1996 American League Cy Young Award winner and three-time All-Star was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame on Saturday.
"I couldn't believe it," Hentgen said. "So I'm just very honoured, very humbled to be here. [Scott Crawford, the Canadian Hall of Fame's director of operations] made a point to say that it wasn't your career so much, it was your overall body of work, and I thought that that was pretty cool.
"I currently work for the team, still have for years, and I'm very proud to be a Blue Jay. I signed out of high school, so for me it was my first organization and my last. I finished my career in '04 as a player there. It's an exciting weekend."
With plenty of family and friends in attendance, hailing from just across the border in Detroit and hosting relatives from nearby Windsor, Ont., and Sarnia, Ont., the 47-year-old former right-hander reflected on his playing career throughout the day, recalling his fondest memories as a member of the Blue Jays.
"The '92 and '93 World Series teams for me are the one thing that stands out in my career," Hentgen said. "It was just such a thrill to be able to play that late in the season, and then to play for the championship and get a World Series ring, it was something that I'll never forget."
Grateful to have played, and now happy to be finished his playing career, the man with the fifth-most wins in Toronto franchise history -- with 107 -- gave special thanks to his family. Though there are parts of the game between the white lines that he misses, he has been especially delighted to have been able to watch his three daughters grow up over the last decade.
"I do miss the games when I was good, but I don't miss the games when you lose and when you're not very efficient out there on the mound," Hentgen said. "So for me I have great memories, great stories, great friendships, but the one thing that sticks out is the World Series. I do miss playing; I miss competing, but I don't miss those bad games."
Inducted alongside long-time Blue Jays executive and friend Howard Starkman, the former PR guru of the club believes that the honor is truly deserving for the former player, and never saw Hentgen have any of those bad days he mentioned.
"Pat was just one of the most pleasant, likeable players we ever had," Starkman said. "I hate to say he was the most likeable, but he was always just very pleasant off the field, and on the field he was a bulldog. He pitched really great, he won the Cy Young [Award], and he's just a great employee for the Blue Jays right now. He's just really a superhuman person and I'm glad to see he's in here."
Just excited to be acknowledged by the Hall of Fame in St. Marys, Hentgen believes that his biggest contribution to the game in Canada has been what he's tried to pass on to future generations of young players north of the border.
"[Just] being a good role model for kids, in Toronto and all throughout the country of Canada." Hentgen said. "It's just having the impact on the kids, and being a good role model is important, so that maybe they can strive to play in the majors someday.
"I tried to do it probably more so as a player, because the kids look up to you back then. Now you've got to tell the kids to Google you, 'Why don't you look me up on the Internet?' But it's just a great thrill and I'm excited to be here and I can't tell you how many times people have said, 'Wow you're going into the Canadian Hall of Fame.' So this is a good experience."
Hentgen joined the 2016 Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame induction class that includes Starkman, Canadian scout, builder and former Minor League player Wayne Norton, former Montreal Expos right-hander Dennis Martinez, former Blue Jays TV analyst Tony Kubek, and baseball pioneer William Shuttleworth, who was enshrined posthumously.
Alexis Brudnicki is a contributor to MLB.com.